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Design Story: Interview with Steuart Padwick

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Considered craftsmanship goes hand in hand with eye-winking wit in the work of UK-based designer Steuart Padwick. His modern furniture pieces are cheery and contemporary, with sleek lines punctuated by pops of color. Unsurprisingly, they’ve garnered accolades, including The Sunday Times UK naming his Legs Crossed Dressing Table one of its “100 Design Must-Haves.” We chatted with Padwick, who works in a studio west of London, about his inimitable design style and his favorite products.

How would you describe your design style?

Steuart Padwick: Warm, witty, and sculptural — often with a bold splash of color.

People have called your work “cheeky.” Is that your personality? Is incorporating wit in your work intentional?

SP: The nicest heading for an article that was written about my work was “Designs to Make Us Smile.” That’s as good a compliment as you can get. It’s hard not to smile if there’s color, brightness, and a bit of kick there. But I want my design to go beyond just being cheeky. So I offset the bright colors with plenty of natural wood, which makes these pieces more versatile — they can truly fit into a variety of environments.

Why do you feel your Legs Crossed Dressing Table has been so popular?

SP: I’m known for unusual legs, and that’s one of the main features of this piece. Yet it’s simple and doesn’t shout at you; it sits there unobtrusively. I’m not one to randomly stick legs on things. They’re always very considered.

What designs do you feel typify your work best or are your favorites?

SP: I’m very pleased with the Double Cross Dressing Table. It has all the key elements of my work: unusual legs, color, and a little ingenuity. It can fold in half and become a breakfast bar, laptop desk, or console, and it has a neat bracket to hold it in the closed or open position. The Sticks lights are simple in their form, but they do their job. These were shortlisted for Elle Decoration’s “Best British Design 2010” list.

Who, or what, inspires your work?

SP: Everything. My work is simply a filter of my life, and, I think, is very reflective of me. Some inspirations behind my work are very clear, like my Pig Bench; others, like my dressing tables and desks, are in constant evolution.

Who’s your target/ideal customer?

SP: I haven’t a clue. I’m not very good at designing for a specific person. If I design something it’s got to be something that I want. That’s most important, that I have a personal connection to it. But luckily other people like it, too. I have friends come up to me and say members of their family bought a piece — that’s rewarding, to say the least.

How can someone with a traditional design scheme incorporate your contemporary products into their space?

SP: I love the juxtaposition of modern and old. At home many of my pieces sit beautifully alongside my Victorian dining table and Jacobean chests from the 1600s. I’ve got the Double Cross Table, Pitch Bullet Desk, Walk Desk, and a Darcey Dining Table — in a box! There are three desks in my sitting room, with clutter all over them, so I work near them, at my dining table.

What can we expect from you next?

SP: I’m looking to reduce my carbon footprint and produce some just-for-the-U.S. designs. I’m looking to break out into other areas and do non-commercial things. I’m in the mood to play.

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Torrey Crell

Torrey is a Merchandiser on the YLiving team whose affinity for online shopping pairs well with her years of experience in the ecommerce industry. Appropriately obsessed with fine home furnishings, her San Francisco apartment is curated with several mid-century styles. As a design enthusiast and a non-believer in diets, she loves few things more than an impressive gallery wall or solid breakfast sandwich.